ACT Budget delivers boost for mental health

The ACT Budget has delivered a much-needed boost for mental health in the territory and will go some way towards ensuring Territorians can get access to the mental health services they deserve, the peak body for psychiatrists in the ACT says. 

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) ACT Branch Chair, Dr Fatma Lowden, said that while the ACT’s psychiatrists would have liked to see more, the $70 million allocated in the budget for mental health over the next four years is a step in the right direction for the territory. 
'The funding allocated in the budget shows that the ACT Government understands the critical importance of ensuring the people of the ACT can access the quality mental health care they deserve', Dr Lowden said. 

Key elements of the $70 million allocated to mental health include: 

  • $7.2 million dollars to support the health workforce, with a focus on psychosocial wellbeing and addressing occupational violence.
  • $14.5 million over four years to strengthen community-based and Canberra Health Services responses for families and young children. These services include perinatal mental health screening, enhancing perinatal, infant and child (0-12) mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, expanding the Childhood Early Intervention Team into the Gungahlin Child and Family Centre and establishing a mother and infant dialectical behavioural therapy service.
  • An expansion of mental health support for young people experiencing, or at risk of, mental health concerns, suicide or self-harm.
  • An expansion of suicide prevention programs to include follow-up care following hospital discharge and greater postvention services to assist those who have recently experienced a suicide attempt or suicide crisis.
  • The establishment of a Territory-wide hospital avoidance strategy that will strengthen proactive community-based programs and reduce pressure on hospitals, which are seeing record numbers of mental health patients. This includes continued funding for the Home Assessment Acute Response Team, extending operating hours of the Mental Health Consultation Liaison position at Calvary Hospital Emergency Room, implementing an Adult Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program, and establishing a permanent Homeless Outreach Team.
  • An extension of the second Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response (PACER) team for a further 12 months.

Dr Lowden said the RANZCP ACT Branch is looking forward to seeing further detail of the government’s funding announcements and working with the government on the roll-out of key elements of the budget.

'It’s never been more important for governments to provide big boosts to mental health services', Dr Lowden said.

'We’re looking forward to working with the ACT Government to further develop our territory’s preparedness to deal with mental health issues'.

'Providing much needed support to the health workforce, expanding mental health support for young people, enhancing services families and young children – these are all very welcomed and much-needed funding initiatives that will make a real difference to our ability to respond to the mental health needs of the territory'. 

'Of course we would have liked to have seen more funding allocated to mental health services and, for example, larger increases in psychiatric workforce and dedicated hospital beds, but all-in-all the budget means we’ll be in a better place to provide mental health support and services now than the territory has been in the past'.

'The people of the ACT deserve a world-class mental health system, and while of course it would have been great to see it go further, this budget certainly moves us in the right direction'.

For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call +61 437 315 911, or email

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit

In Australia: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or

In Aotearoa New Zealand: If you or someone you know needs help, 1737 is here to help, for free - Mental Health. You can also contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or


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